|Photo: Freedom To Exhale|
~ Michelle Leonhart, November 17, 2010
It's not looking good for marijuana advocates after day one of the Senate confirmation process for Michelle Leonhart, President Obama's nominee to head the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Acting DEA director Leonhart is nominated to officially fill the position she's already held for three years, and after being prodded by reactionary Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, she had no compunctions about pledging to continue to enforce federal drug laws in states where medical marijuana is legal.
Such a pledge is remarkable in view of the fact that just last year, the Justice Department issued a memo instructing federal attorneys to back off on enforcement against medical marijuana patients and providers who are following their state laws.
|Sweet Jesus, this guy's a moron. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions: "I'm a big fan of the DEA"|
"I'm a big fan of the DEA," said Sen. Sessions, who seemed fixated on the medical marijuana question, before asking Leonhart point blank if she would fight the legalization of medicinal cannabis, reports The Daily Caller.
"I have seen what marijuana use has done to young people," Leonhart responded. "I have seen the abuse, I have seen what it's done to families. It's bad."
"If confirmed as administrator, we would continue to enforce the federal drug laws," Leonhart promised.
"These legalization efforts sound good to people," Sen. Sessions said. "They say, 'We could just end the problem of drugs if we could just make it legal.' But any country that's tried that, Alaska and other places have tried it, have failed. It does not work," Sessions said, seemingly unfamiliar with the histories of Portugal, Spain, and other nations.
"We need people willing to say that," Sessions badgered Leonhart. "Are you willing to say that?"
|Photo: Felipe Dana/The Daily Caller|
|Acting DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart: "If confirmed as administrator, we would continue to enforce the federal drug laws"|
"Yes, I've said that, Senator," Leonhart obediently responded. "You're absolutely correct [about] the social costs from drug abuse, especially from marijuana," Leonhart claimed.
"Legalizers say it will help the Mexican cartel situation; it won't," Leonhart claimed. "It will allow states to balance budgets; it won't. No one is looking [at] the social costs of legalizing drugs."
As pointed out by NORML's Paul Armentano at AlterNet, not a single Senator at the hearing had the courage to demand that Leonhart respect the laws of the 15 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized the use of marijuana as medicine.
Not even Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) -- from a medical marijuana state in the process of licensing dispensaries -- appeared to have any problem with appointing as head of a federal agency someone who declares her intention to put his own constituents into federal prison for following state law.
As interim DEA director, Leonhart has already shown where she stands on the issue of respecting state medical marijuana laws. She has overseen dozens of federal raids on dispensaries, growers, and potency testing laboratories that are following state law -- in direct violation of the Obama Administration's own written policies.
"These people are the constiuents of 30 percent of the U.S. Senate; yet not even one of these elected officials appears willing to speak up for them," Armentano said. "That is disgraceful."